Another section of the Palace Museum, Zanzibar


Is there any way of determining how long it takes to find one’s voice as an artist? Probably not, as each person will have unique and personal ways of absorbing and processing information. Those who have access to parental role models in the field have some advantages over others, but this doesn’t mean that they will eventually create work of exceptional intrinsic value. The things we discover on our individual journeys can make all the difference, especially if we are on the path towards becoming self made men or women.

An artist whom I regard as an elder once said to me that there is a tendency amongst human beings to want to standardise things. If we produce things that can be easily classified, then that makes life easier for many who have vested interests in the sector. Is it likely that production lines of this sort can bring remarkable or magical things into being? I’m inclined to think that the jury is still out in this regard.

For a long time, people outside of the music arena didn’t understand why aficionados were dismissive of television talent shows of recent years. This is possibly because audiences who enjoy watching those shows are unaware of the history of the business and the revolution that happened in the 1960s, when young musicians were able to find their creative voices in public.

The young musicians of that generation are still being lionised today. One of them was rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Literature – for writing songs!

We are living in tough times for individual artistic development. Those who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are more likely than others to have the wherewithal to buy time and experiences that will help them on their journeys. In the end, we all know when we see, hear or perceive cultural symbols of lasting value.